Sitting through an emergency preparedness presentation is a rite of spring in the Southeast U.S. Organizations ranging from the American Red Cross to local municipal governments put on presentations to help people prepare for hurricane season. The presentations almost always include a printed list of things to have on hand.
If you had to guess what might be on such a list, would you guess batteries? Most of us would, given how much we rely on batteries to power a whole host of electronic devices. Emergency preparedness experts recommend having batteries for flashlights, portable radios, and other critical devices.
Recommending batteries for emergency prep is good. But why stop there? If you are going to recommend batteries, you might just as well recommend rechargeable batteries. Better yet, lithium ion batteries are the way to go.
1. Charging Ahead of the Storm
Salt Lake City’s Pale Blue Earth recommends rechargeable lithium-ion for three reasons, the first of which is the ability to charge batteries ahead of the storm. If you know a storm is coming, you can get ahead of the game by fully charging your batteries. Should the power then go out, you have full batteries to start with.
You could also run out to the store and buy alkaline batteries. However, there is a tendency to purchase alkalines and leave them in a drawer until you need them. If you have batteries that are 6 to 8 months old, you have to ask yourself whether or not they have been used for anything else. And if so, you do not really know how much power they have left. Rechargeable batteries offer the advantage of being fully charged when you need them.
2. Recharging the Batteries
Another benefit of rechargeable lithium ion batteries is that they can be charged over and over again. While that might not seem to be a benefit during a power outage, it actually is. How so? Think about your car. Most modern cars offer USB ports for plugging in MP3 players, video game use, and so forth. If you are using USB rechargeable batteries, you can charge them with those same ports.
While your neighbors are discovering that the local pharmacy is all out of alkaline batteries, you can charge your batteries in your car. You will always have juice for your flashlight and your portable radio. Of course, this is all contingent upon you using batteries that can be recharged via USB.
3. Higher Energy Density
A third reason to choose lithium-ion batteries is their higher energy density. Energy density refers to the amount of energy a battery can store. Thus, a AAA lithium-ion battery can store more energy than its alkaline counterpart. This is important when talking about powering hand-held devices during an emergency.
Higher energy density means your batteries will last longer with each use. You get more raw power out of a lithium-ion battery pack then you will alkaline batteries. You will get better performance compared to NiCad and NiMH batteries as well.
The only downside to stocking up with lithium-ion batteries is the price you pay at the counter. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are more expensive per unit. So if the only time you ever use batteries is during emergencies, it might not be worth spending so much.
On the other hand, most of us use batteries on a regular basis. And given that lithium-ion batteries can be recharged 1,000 times or more, you actually end up saving money in the long run. Lithium-ion is the better choice for both regular use and emergency prep.